It is tricky to choose significantly John Hood’s declare (“Dewey’s legacy decimates system,” Aug. 11, 2021) that John Dewey is to blame for what Hood thinks are the weaknesses of American general public education (weaknesses that in simple fact he fails to specify). Are we definitely again to holding Dewey and his so-known as “disciples” dependable for whatsoever supposedly ails our schools right now, especially given the earlier numerous a long time of conservative corporate reform that has integrated sizeable cuts in state aid, an intensification of teachers’ work, increased use of standardized tests to ascertain both university student and teacher functionality, use of tax-supported vouchers for private university enrollment and easing of restrictions on community charter universities, Instruct for The us and other “alternative” teacher training systems, popular main curriculum specifications, and so on.?
Amid all the assaults on public education given that the 1983 report on “A Nation at Hazard,” Hood delivers us back to Dewey as the bogeyman of our schooling desires. He appears to depend mostly on just one ebook posted in 2006 by the Intercollegiate Research Institute, an business founded in 1953 for the categorical goal of advertising and marketing conservative considered on campuses. A guide that a person scholar of ethics and education and learning at Texas Tech University (not accurately a hotbed of progressive education and learning) described as “a mostly fictional, distorted caricature of Dewey”? Indeed, for the duration of a time when the fantastic American experiment looks as a great deal in hazard as it has at any time been during the earlier 150 years, ought to not there be some recognition of Dewey’s lifelong dedication to democracy in all phases of daily life? Does Hood assume that referring hyperbolically to Dewey as the “purveyor of some of the most noxious ideas of the previous century” and selecting a few quick excerpted quotations from a ebook about Dewey’s work in any way does justice to the intellectual contributions of a person frequently regarded as to be 1 of America’s best philosophers? Whether or not or not a single agrees with Dewey’s views on instruction, such cherry buying of selected rates taken out of context is a time-worn technique to boost distortion somewhat than being familiar with, to gain adherents to a result in fairly than to stimulate an knowledgeable citizenry.
Eventually, a key assertion of Hood’s is that Dewey and the progressive schooling motion “wreaked havoc on colleges for a long time.” What evidence can he muster for this declare, especially as it stands in stark contrast to the conclusion achieved by most educational scientists. In 1984, for instance, former faculty superintendent and Stanford University researcher Larry Cuban wrote that “studies in various configurations uncovered the persistent event of trainer-centered procedures due to the fact the transform of the century.” In a stick to-up ebook Cuban wrote in 1995 with Stanford colleague David Tyack, they reviewed how rather minor classroom instruction had transformed in U.S. faculties about the previous century, suggesting that 1 purpose for the absence of modify was that reform scheduling mostly “bypassed academics and discounted their information of what universities are like.” Likewise, as nicely-revered scholar John Goodlad concluded in 1999, Dewey has been “universally acknowledged as his country’s intellectual voice … and his views identified their way didactically into the school rooms of teachers’ education but [they] ended up shed or distorted before reaching the schoolhouse” (emphasis included). Dewey himself, soon right before his loss of life in 1952, viewed the improvements in educational facilities that had transpired as a end result of the progressive movement this way: “There is larger consciousness of the wants of the growing human being, and the own relations concerning lecturers and college students have been humanized and democratized. But the results in these respects is as however limited it is mainly atmospheric it has not still penetrated and permeated the foundations of the instructional institutions. … [T]listed here is much extra discuss about [progressive education tenets] than the undertaking of it.” What major study proof can Hood deliver that suggests normally? It is at the least an debatable issue, and his point of view should not be asserted as if it is recognized knowledge.
Hood clearly knows tiny about general public education, earlier and present, and depends on a person e book (of so significantly written by and about Dewey) to make points that help his conservative globe look at. The oft-quoted remark by previous Sen. Daniel Moynihan seems particularly pertinent in this article: “Everyone is entitled to their individual views, but they are not entitled to their personal specifics.”
I am disturbed that my neighborhood newspaper offers house for these an sick-informed and weakly-argued column. For also extended Hood has been supplied a public system to boost the narrowly partisan, one particular-sided viewpoints of the John Locke Foundation (where he is a board member), one more self-proclaimed conservative believe tank. His writings would be additional ideal as ads. We have to have columnists who present visitors with effectively-founded evidence and acceptable arguments for their strongly-held opinions. Not columnists whose principal purpose seems to be to hoodwink us.
Kenneth Teitelbaum is a previous dean and professor of instruction and creator most just lately of Critical Concerns in Democratic Education: Curriculum, Teaching, and Socio-Political Realities (2020).